"AND YET, FOR EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENED TO HIM AND AROUND HIM, ALEC BALDWIN SHOWS NOT THE PITTED SURFACE OF A BATTERED SURVIVOR BUT THE SMOOTH FINISH OF A BELOVED ENTERTAINER."
So wrote James Wolcott in the March 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. And although I had originally envisioned a smoother, less pitted career path, I’ll take his words and say thank you.
It has been an alternately thrilling and challenging time for me in my chosen field. Growing up in the 1960′s on Long Island with my father (a school teacher) my mother (a housewife) and my two sisters and three brothers, I wasn’t at all prepared for what might happen or how to handle it once I left George Washington University to attend the undergrad drama program at NYU. Once in New York, acting, and all of its rites of passage, slowly began to envelop me. I got a job on a soap opera, The Doctors, at 30 Rock, the fabled NBC headquarters. I had been to acting school and moonlighting as an administrator, and a good one, for a year. Yet, I had no idea what I was doing.
I went to LA, to work in prime time TV. I did Knots Landing and got my first taste of what it was like to actually reach a large audience. I started appearing in smaller roles in films. I auditioned for top directors. I boarded an airplane one day and everyone in the cabin seemed to be reading The Cardinal of the Kremlin or Red Storm Rising or The Hunt for Red October. Within months of that plane ride, I was cast as Jack Ryan.
I made more movies. I made bad movies. A couple of good ones. I married a beautiful, famous movie star. I became a father. I rushed back to New York, whenever possible, to perform on stage. Prelude to a Kiss, A Streetcar Named Desire, Macbeth, Gross Points at Bay Street in Sag Harbor, The Twentieth Century, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Equus.
The night Streetcar closed, I wept, knowing I would likely never say Williams’ great words on stage again. All of my fondest memories, without question, have been in the theatre.
Old habits die hard, so I got political. I studied campaign finance issues with think-tankers at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice. I studied faulty nuclear reactor designs and the unavoidable threats posed by aging facilities like Oyster Creek in New Jersey and Millstone in Connecticut. I joined The Creative Coalition and worked with the brilliant Ron Silver and the much admired Chris Reeve. Both, unbelievably, gone now. I met and befriended and campaigned for some of my political idols. Bill Clinton, Paul Wellstone. Ted Kennedy.
I went back to NYU in 1994 and graduated with my class at the Tisch school, fourteen years after I’d left. Sixteen years later, I got an honorary doctorate from NYU and addressed the commencement at Yankee stadium. (Go Yankees)
I got divorced. Got nominated for an Oscar. Hosted the Oscars. I wrote a book and hope to write some more. I became the announcer of the New York Philharmonic (my favorite gig) I had little kids tell me “You’re the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine!!” Other, older kids said “You are useress to me Areck Barrin” in their best Kim Jong-Il dialect. I was given the chance to present the Kennedy Center Honor…..to Paul McCartney.
I met Lorne Michaels, who became perhaps the most important producer in my career. He suggested that I do a TV series with Tina Fey. They both changed my life.
I have tried to balance the commercial and the creative to the best of my ability. A career as an actor is, in the end, all about what’s next. Very few, like Tom Hanks or Jerry Seinfeld or Julia Roberts, are able to build up an amount of creative equity that endures throughout a lifetime. However, I’ve spent the last thirty odd years enjoying the company of some of the industry’s most gifted performers, directors, designers, writers, cinematographers and technicians and it has been an honor to know them. To work with them. Anthony Hopkins. Meryl Streep. Joe Maher. Chris Plummer. Robert Richardson. Pacino. DeNiro. Michael Ballhaus. Kevin Spacey. Juan Ruiz Anchia. Bill Macy. Cynthia Nixon. Jessica Lange and Amy Madigan. John Toll. Jennifer Jason Leigh. Don McAlpine. Mary Louise Parker. Scorsese. It has been amazing.
We have reworked this website to better update you about what I am up to, what I want to share with you in culture and media and to hear from you, as well.
Thanks to everyone at Purpose for helping me get there.
- Alec Baldwin, June 2011